How Seniors Can Reduce Their Risk of Stroke

1 November 2021

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With healthcare and technological advances continuing to rapidly improve the quality of medical care, it’s no surprise that human beings are living longer than ever. However, as our population ages more, the risk of certain health problems tends to rise accordingly. This is true for diseases such as stroke, which largely impact seniors and individuals over the age of 65 years old. 

 

As more and more people enter this age category, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to fight back against stroke risk. In fact, someone in the United States suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds, and each year nearly 800,000 Americans will die from this disease.

What Happens During a Stroke

Strokes occur when blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain become blocked by clots or burst entirely. When this occurs, portions of the brain cannot get much-needed blood and oxygen, causing important brain cells to die. Unfortunately, if a stroke occurs and blood flow can’t reach certain regions of the brain, some body functions could stop functioning properly. 

 

It’s also important to be able to identify the signs of a stroke. Being able to do so can help save someone’s life and improve their chances of having a full recovery. If someone around you is exhibiting any signs of stroke, call 911 immediately. 

 

Some common signs of stroke include:

 

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body

  • Sudden confusion, difficulty talking, or difficulty understanding others 

  • Sudden trouble with one’s vision

  • Sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, losing balance, or feeling uncoordinated

 

Thankfully, up to 80% of strokes might be preventable by working with health care professionals and making healthy lifestyle choices. So what are some ways to do so? Keep reading to learn more!

Manage Your Blood Pressure

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Did you know that high blood pressure (or hypertension) is the leading cause of strokes? In fact, more than half of all strokes occur because of this reason, and people with high blood pressure are four to six times more likely to have a stroke. 

 

Hypertension can make arterial walls thicker and cause fat and cholesterol to build up and turn into plaque. If this build-up breaks off, it can eventually block the important blood supply to the brain. High blood pressure can also make arteries weaker and make it more likely that they burst and lead to a hemorrhagic stroke. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range by staying healthy and visiting your doctor regularly.

Check Your Heartbeat

Irregular heartbeats are another major cause of blood clots that can lead to strokes. Known as atrial fibrillation (AFib), these irregularities can cause blood to accumulate in your heart and eventually clot. Unfortunately, if this clot travels to the brain it can bring on a stroke. 

 

AFib can occur due to hypertension, arterial plaque, and other cardiovascular issues. Check in with your doctor if you feel flutters in your heart or feel short of breath. There are medications and procedures that can help get your heart back into a normal rhythm.

Stay Active

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Staying on the move and exercising regularly can help seniors prevent lots of unwanted health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes. Each one of these issues is a risk factor for stroke so staying active can be a great way to tackle many problems at once. Check-in with your doctor to figure out what exercise plan is best for your health and make sure to stick to it regularly.

Avoid Fatty Unhealthy Foods

Eating lean and highly nutritious foods can also help prevent clogged arteries, blood clots, and stroke. Try to stay away from trans and saturated fats which can clog up arteries, along with too much sodium and processed foods. 

 

Salt and trans fats in particular can elevate blood pressure. Sticking to fresh fruits and vegetables is always a good idea for seniors. When it comes to protein, go for lean options that are prepared without unhealthy fats. Doing so can help keep your cholesterol under control as well!

Conclusion

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As you can see, there are plenty of great ways for seniors to reduce their risk of stroke. Managing healthy blood pressure levels is very important to ensure arteries are staying healthy and undamaged. 

Staying active and eating healthy foods can also prevent blood clots from forming and traveling to the brain. Additionally, make sure to understand what a stroke looks like, as early recognition can help save someone’s life and boost the chances of a full recovery!

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